Dodge Hornet GT: Tuned Into Value

With a price tag near $30,000 and details like sporty suspension and hood vents, the Dodge Hornet GT has woven the carmaker's performance history into a budget-friendly CUV.

The Dodge Hornet Gt And Me. Photo Annika Carter
The Dodge Hornet GT and me. Photo: Annika Carter

The Dodge Hornet Offers Tight Performance for a Low Price

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to join Dodge in Asheville, North Carolina, to experience their latest compact utility vehicle offering, the Hornet. This time, I was able to experience the Hornet in another capacity – in daily driving – to experience what the new Hornet is like to live with.

In 2023, Dodge produced the Hornet GT and GT Plus. The Hornet will be produced in a hybrid R/T version beginning with the 2024 year model. With prices starting just over $30,000, the Hornet GT falls on the more affordable end of the spectrum, but it doesn’t drive like a value-focused SUV.

Related: Dodge Hornet PHEV: Performance and Fun in One Package

Rear Seat Views In The Dodge Hornet.

View of the dashboard in the Dodge Hornet. Photo: Annika Carter

Getting Granular with Dodge Hornet Power

Sticking to its performance roots, Dodge tuned the Hornet to feel sporty, and they were successful. The torque hits low in the RPMs, giving quick acceleration from the line. In fact, the acceleration may very well be too quick when not in Sport mode. There were a few times when accelerating through left-hand turns that I found myself accidentally causing the tires to squeal. Initially, it felt like just a small press of the gas pedal with one toe would cause the Hornet to jump off the line, but after a couple of days of driving, I was able to get used to the pedal feel.

The Hornet GT is equipped with a 2.0L four-cylinder turbo engine powering all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine produces a peppy 268 horsepower and 295 ft/lb of torque. Dodge positioned the Hornet to be quicker than its rivals, too; the GT accelerates to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds.

While not quite like a high-end luxury SUV, the frequency selective damping suspension in the Hornet easily absorbs bumps at both low and high speeds and gives a comfy ride. Additionally, the suspension will stiffen when Sport mode is activated, giving better cornering. Even out of Sport mode, the Hornet corners surprisingly well for an SUV.

Related: 2023 Dodge Challenger Black Ghost Last Call Edition

Back Seat Of The Dodge Hornet

Back seat of the Dodge Hornet Photo: Annika Carter

Staying Safe in the Dodge Hornet

The Hornet does offer some safety features standard, namely automated emergency braking to avoid collisions, pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors. An additional $2,245 will buy the tech package, which adds the active driving assist system, including lane centering and adaptive cruise control, drowsy driver detection, intelligent speed assist (which works in conjunction with traffic sign recognition to suggest a speed adjustment based on the speed limit for the current road), front, rear, and side parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system.

As tested, the Hornet GT I drove was equipped with lane-centering and adaptive cruise control. Personally, I would opt to add the tech package, as the lack of front parking sensors in a taller vehicle can make parking more challenging. While I was only able to test the rearview camera rather than the full surround camera system, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality and clarity of the rear camera.

The Hornet does have auto start/stop when the vehicle comes to a stop at a stop light. While this feature can be turned off with a button on the center console, this setting will be reset and turned on again when the vehicle is turned off. The Hornet does offer the option for Auto Hold, where the car will remain stopped until the gas pedal is pressed, allowing the driver to take their foot off the brake when sitting in traffic, but removing your foot from the brake will turn the car back even before you begin accelerating.

A few times, I did find auto hold kicked on a bit early, causing a jerky stop as I was slowly rolling up to a stop light, but even still, it is an option that I personally enjoy having turned on. The setting to turn auto hold on or off is hidden in the vehicle settings through the multimedia system. Along with turning on and off the rain-sensing wipers, this is a setting that I would like to have a little more accessible, although this might be a preference just because of what I’m used to.

Related: 11 Fun 2- and 3-Row SUVs Built for Value and Adventure 

The Dodge Hornet Has A Sporty Feel Inside And Outside.

The Dodge Hornet has a sporty feel inside and outside. Photo: Annika Carter

The Inside of the Dodge Hornet

The interior of the Hornet is comfortable, although the base model will be equipped with only manually adjustable seats. The Cold Weather Package will offer heated seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as a remote start. The backseat is an average size. The leg room is decent, although some CUVs have a little more leg space.

I would have enjoyed a larger center console, as I found the compartment itself a little small. There is a little cubby at the front of the center console that is the perfect size for my phone, but the second I plugged my phone in, the charger sticking out the bottom prevented my phone from fitting into the cubby, leaving me to take up a full cup holder with my phone, as it was the only convenient place to put it.

Both the front and rear seats have access to a USB and USB-C charge port, but neither of these ports need to be used for Android Auto or Apple Car play, as these are both available wireless as standard. Apple Car Play and Android Auto are displayed on a 12.3” central touchscreen multimedia system. Navigation is not standard, but I would argue that a navigation system may not be as necessary any more thanks to the compatibility of modern cars with our phones (and, of course, I used Google Maps for everything anyway!).

The Digital Gauge In The Dodge Hornet.

The digital gauge in the Dodge Hornet. Photo: Annika Carter

Screens and Customization in the Dodge Hornet

The gauges are also displayed on a 12.3” digital display, allowing for customization of the appearance of the gauges, as well as what information is displayed where. If you and your spouse have different preferences for drive modes or vehicle settings, no worries because the Dodge Hornet is equipped with driver profiles, allowing each driver to save their preferences and easily access them next time they sit in the driver’s seat. 

The steering wheel features buttons to control the gauge display, active cruise control settings, and media control. I did find the song skip control on the steering wheel to be a bit difficult to master. Rather than being a simple button, the song skip control was a small dial, while the volume control was a set of buttons. I would have liked these controls to be swapped, as it was easy to skip two songs instead of just one accidentally. I find it is likely more common to adjust the volume by more than one degree than try to skip more than one song at once.

The Dodge Hornet Multimedia System Is Convenient.

The Dodge Hornet multimedia system is convenient and efficient. Photo: Annika Carter

Value for the (Gas) Price

For a CUV, the Hornet gets average gas mileage, rates at 21 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway. In my days of testing, I averaged over this, at 29.9 MPG, with both highway and city driving.

On the exterior, the Dodge Hornet looks, in my opinion, stellar. It contains refined elements from Dodge’s muscle cars, with headlights and taillights reminiscent of the Dodge Charger and small vents on the hood, giving it a sporty, muscle car appearance.

If you’re looking for a smaller SUV that can hold a family while still maintaining an element of sportiness, both in driving experience and looks, all for less than $35,000, the Dodge Hornet is the way to go.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Dodge for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided, but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

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Annika Carter has over four years of performance driving experience, both with and without professional instruction. She has driven... More about Annika Carter